The first products to be launched under the Bifidobacterium Memory series are a yoghurt drink and a supplement.
Both contains the clinically studied probiotic strain Bifidobacterium breve A1 (B. breve MCC1274).
In the study, older adults (50 to 79 years old) who suffer from mild cognitive impairment were administered with MCC1274 (2 x 1010 CFU). After 16 weeks, there was significant improvements in immediate and delayed memory compared to the placebo group.
Mild cognitive impairment is characterised as a decline of cognitive functions that do not usually interfere with daily life but is usually associated with increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
MCC1274 is suggested to have an effect on the hippocampus, which is critical for short-term and long-term memory.
The findings were so significant in the research field that the firm received the Urakami Award this year. The award was traditionally given to universities and research institutes, and Morinaga Milk Industry was the only private company in the award’s history to achieve this.
According to Mitsunori Watanabe, manager of public relations at Morinaga Milk Industry, MCC1274 is the first probiotic claiming to improve memory functions in Japan. Other products typically use ingredients like DHA/EPA, GABA and ginkgo biloba extract.
For the new products launching in Japan, the firm’s core target group are people in their 60s to 70s who are concerned with memory loss.
The next target group are those between 50 to 70 who are interested in brain-gut correlation.
These products are recognised as a ‘food with functional claim’, which allows the firm to market these claims on the packaging.
“The B. breve MCC1274 contained in this product has been reported to maintain memory and spatial recognition, which are parts of cognitive functions that decline with age in healthy middle-aged and elderly people. The memory described herein is the ability to remember and recall what you see and hear.”
The yoghurt contains 20 billion CFU of MCC1274, while the supplement has 20 billion CFU for every two capsules.
They are scheduled to retail this month, in supermarkets and convenience stores nationwide for the yoghurt product, and e-commerce for the supplement.
Watanabe said supplements typically account for a large percentage of health food sales on e-commerce hence why the firm chose to sell the supplements online.
The company recently announced plans to expand its functional yoghurt production line at the Tone Plant located in the Ibaraki Prefecture.
The plant currently manufactures a range of yoghurt including the new yoghurt from the Bifidobacterium Memory series, Triple Yogurt and Bifidus Yogurt designed to improve bowel movements.
Bifidus Yogurt contains its award-winning probiotic strain BB536.
The plant will be expanded to double the production capacity by May 2022 with the investment expected to cost around JPY 2.5 billion (US$22.3 million).
Morinaga Milk’s functional yoghurt products have performed well in recent years.
The Triple Yogurt series and Bifidus Yogurt series grew approximately 150% and 300% respectively in fiscal 2021 compared with the previous fiscal year.